Blue Eco Blog

Splash! You are in Costa Rica's Blue Eco Blog. Echoing Eco for Oceans and Waters. Giving voice to dolphins and whales, their waves and their waters, and all denizens of the deep. News they think you should use. Dive in.

True Costa Rican Wild Animal Stories by Shawn Larkin Strunz

clock October 10, 2012 15:43 by author BlueEcoBlog

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Blue Permaculture at Sea Blueprint

clock August 17, 2012 10:16 by author BlueEcoBlog

Fantastic Fish Farms for Future Feasting?

Big Food Fish Can Help Feed the Future

From The Tico Times Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010 - By Shawn Larkin
THE BIG BLUE: Easy-to-farm species like Almaco jack and black kingfish are top choices for the future of sustainable fish farming in Costa Rica.

Tico Tuna: Almaco jack, Seriola rivoliana, is much easier to raise and harvest than tuna and tastes much the same.

Big beasts that have been forced to evolve for human benefit are called domestic animals. Domestic food animals have changed the course of human history and evolved for millennia, giving us things like cows and pigs. All the big food animals have one thing in common: They live on land. But, as we all know, times are changing. Today we are seeing the dawn of domestic big food fish.

We tried domesticating a lot of different land animal species before we ended up with the major ones we all know today. Could it be that the same thing will happen in the ocean? Experts think it’s a sure thing. So what fish of the many being tried might help feed a hungry world?

A lot of factors influence production of domestic food animals, but ultimately they must produce quality quickly and cheaply. If the animal is hard to breed or difficult to raise, does not taste good or is delicate in nature, its not a big food domestic.

Two fish are fins apart from the rest of the wannabe maritime domestics. Their names vary depending on where in the world you are, but the species are the same: Seriola rivoliana and Rachycentron canadum. We could trademark them as “Tico Tuna” and “Caribbean Salmon.”

Tico Tuna goes by Almaco jack, kahala, longfin yellowtail, Songoro amberjack and medregal, while Caribbean Salmon is known as black kingfish, black salmon, ling or cobia.

Hawaii’s Kona Blue Water Farms, a world pioneer of open-ocean farms, markets the common fish that divers and sportfishers in Costa Rica call Almaco jack as Kona Kampachi. Because many people cannot tell the difference between the taste of this fish and that of albacore tuna, the meat meets the standards of the discriminating sushi connoisseur and also tastes great prepared any other way. This fish is way easier to raise, harvest and make money from than tuna, which seem to be our planet’s default favorite fish. Farming Tico Tuna would be far more sustainable than Costa Rica’s current myopic tuna, dolphin, shark and ray-killing machines, the tuna dozers, that destroy our national heritage every day in the rarely seen offshore Pacific pelagic.

We need look no farther then Caribbean Panama for pioneering offshore blue farmers of a species that was called black kingfish by some of Costa Rica’s Caribbean fisherman back when we still had these fish. U.S.-based Open Blue Sea Farms spent a lot of energy figuring out that this fish is one of the major players in future food. Similar in appearance to sharks, black kingfish are big, tasty enough for sushi and quick and easy to produce in blue farms. As Costa Rica’s Caribbean has hardly any big fish left due to massive overfishing, farming this fish would reduce pressure on the few remaining wild fish while providing more habitat. In other words, fish farms might save Costa Rica’s Caribbean fisheries from switching to jellyfish to survive, as has happened in other places where fisheries have collapsed, like North America’s cod stocks.

These obvious choices for the future of big fish domestication also can be raised without antibiotics, hormones or mercury, making them healthier for people and the planet. Grown together with shellfish, seaweed and smaller fish, blue farmers can mimic a natural ecosystem that absorbs one species’s waste while producing food for other species, like us. The farms would be far out to sea, out of sight from the beaches and islands that support the economy with tourism. Surfers can chill out because the farms would have no effect on waves, and surfers love sushi. Fishers would catch more fish around the farms, as they are proven fish-attracting devices.

Sustainable pelagic blue farming seems like a much better option than buying fish from Panama and Hawaii, or eating more jellyfish.

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Costa Rica Fish Farms are Back but Aqua Permaculture This TIme

clock August 17, 2012 08:41 by author BlueEcoBlog

Oceanic Farming Is Wave of the Future

From The Tico Times Thursday, September 16, 2008- By Shawn Larkin
THE BIG BLUE: The soil of the future is in the ocean

Costa Rica’s biggest and most bioproductive ecosystem, the offshore open-ocean pelagic, could be a shining blue diamond of economic productivity with a little management fertilizer.

Of course, pelagic or deep-sea fishing already provides big money, but many who have studied the situation think sustainability is being left out of the equation. Will Costa Rica’s oceans collapse like a tree stripped of leaves and fruit, or will it bloom for generations?

Ocean parks, refuges, sanctuaries and biological corridors clearly are part of any blue future. Costa Rica has demonstrated to the world the economic value of green protected areas, and hopefully we will follow our own lesson with our marine resources.

But parks are not all the future holds for our oceans. If history is any indicator, oceanic farming will become even bigger than the terrestrial kind. The soil of the future is the ocean.

If we know anything about the future, it’s that it will be hungry. By many estimates, more then half the world’s seafood is already farmed. And more than half the world’s fisheries have collapsed.

The future of open-ocean permaculture will be very different from the first crude attempts at ocean monoculture. As farmers around the world go green – meaning organic and sustainable – by demand, blue farmers get the advantage of being able to start off that way. Companies like Kona Blue Water Farms are already leading the way in sustainable seafood production. Blue farmers could literally save the world.

Future blue farms might be more like Indian milpas than monoculture banana plantations: multiple useful species growing in synergistic harmony, tended to by nearby local communities.

Imagine a giant shining blue diamond, bigger than your house, far offshore, out of sight of land – a giant diamond in the sea, half submerged. A pole runs from top to bottom. The sides of the diamond are made of a mesh that keeps fish in but lets water pass through. The waste from the fish feeds strings of shellfish around the bottom of the diamond. Algae and other life growing on the shellfish bring in a cloud of little fish that surround the diamond. Small holes in the mesh let the little fish dart through, feeding the big fish. And the big fish are harvested as needed.


Local communities and businesses could tend their own, local blue diamonds. Other diamonds could be released offshore near the northern or southern border. With currents, nature and technology doing the work, the diamonds would get harvested at the other end of the country, full of fat fish. Sportfishers would increase their catches around the massive fish-attracting devices, divers and snorkelers would go below for a look, boats and kayakers would want to go around, guides would be needed, and even more money and livelihoods would be made.

Perhaps we could help lead the way to the future of blue farming, applying the age-old principles of permaculture and sustainability. Many cultures have sustainably harvested shallow coastal waters since ancient times. Now is the time to take it farther offshore and farm, as well as conserve, the big blue.

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